Ukraine's cheap missile outperforms the best S-400 systems and wreaks havoc on Russian fighter jets.

Much attention has been given to the firepower of hypersonic missiles, fighters, and big guns in the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war. However, amidst the discussions about expensive high-tech weapons, one weapon has emerged as the most effective against fixed-wing, rotary, and drone aircraft: the man-portable air defense system (MANPADS). This article delves into the significance and impact of MANPADS in the conflict, highlighting their effectiveness and role in countering Russian aviation.

The Power of MANPADS

MANPADS, often referred to as the worst nightmare for Russian fighters, have wreaked havoc on low-flying fighter jets, helicopters, and drones. These portable systems consist of three main components: a disposable cart with a launch tube carrying a missile, a power system, and a trigger or firing unit. While expensive high-tech weapons receive much attention, MANPADS are the most cost-effective option for shooting down aircraft in this war.

Losses Incurred by Russian Fighters

The Oryx website has reported that Russian fighter losses amount to 36, while Ukrainian sources claim even higher figures. The majority of defense aid provided to Ukraine by NATO countries consists of MANPADS, making low-altitude flights by Russian planes and helicopters prohibitively expensive. As a result, most Russian planes are limited to the border area and resort to using glide bombs or long-range missiles to hit their Ukrainian targets.

MANPADS Deployed in Ukraine

Various MANPADS from different countries have been deployed in Ukraine. These include the Soviet-era Igla, Swedish RBS-70 NG, French Mistral, American Stinger, and British Starstreak systems. The major difference between Russian and Western MANPADS lies in their targeting mechanisms. The Russian systems are heat-seeking, while the Western ones are laser-guided. Among them, the Igla system is the most affordable option. Despite its lower cost, the Igla system is still effective due to the inability to target aircraft flying at such low altitudes.

Ukraine's cheap missile outperforms the best S-400 systems and wreaks havoc on Russian fighter jets.
Igla MANPADS

The Role of MANPADS in Denying Air Access

When Russia invaded Ukraine, the Ukrainian forces deployed medium- and long-range air defense systems such as the S-300 and Buk-M1. This forced Russian fighters to fly at altitudes below 4,500 meters, within the range of MANPADS. Consequently, MANPADS was responsible for a significant number of shootdowns of Russian aircraft. Without air superiority, Russia’s strategic air attack capabilities have been limited, resulting in costly barrages of cruise and ballistic missiles. However, these attacks have not achieved strategically decisive damage.

Importance of Effective Air Cover

The lack of effective air cover has had significant consequences in the Ukrainian war. It has rendered the armored component ineffective and highlighted the need for robust air defense capabilities. While MANPADS provide a vital layer of air defense, it is important to note that the overall air defense strategy should be layered and multidirectional. Systems like the S-400 play a crucial role in deterring enemy aircraft and offer capabilities that MANPADS cannot provide.

The Comparison Between MANPADS and Long-Range Missiles

Comparing MANPADS with long-range missiles is misleading, as they serve different purposes. The S-400 system is a powerful air defense system designed to defeat various types of airborne targets and ballistic missiles. It operates at range of up to 3,000 – 3,500 km and can counter electronic warfare aircraft, reconnaissance aircraft, and strategic bombers. MANPADS, on the other hand, are designed for short-range engagements and are effective against low-flying aircraft.

Ukraine's cheap missile outperforms the best S-400

The Role of MANPADS in Ukraine’s Air Defense

In Ukraine, MANPADS provide an important layer of air defense. They contribute to the country’s overall air defense capability, working in conjunction with other systems like the S-300 and Buk-M1. MANPADS continue to be a significant challenge for Russian aviation, and their deployment has made low-altitude flights by Russian planes and helicopters increasingly risky and expensive.

Conclusion

In the Russia-Ukraine war, the humble MANPADS emerged as the most effective weapon against fixed-wing, rotary, and drone aircraft. Despite their relatively low cost, MANPADS have dealt significant blows to Russian fighters and have forced them to alter their tactics. They have demonstrated their value in denying air access and providing an umbrella of air defense for Ukraine. While MANPADS plays a crucial role, it is important to maintain a layered and multidirectional air defense strategy to counter modern threats in conflicts effectively.

FAQs

Q1: How effective are MANPADS in shooting down aircraft? MANPADS have proven to be highly effective against low-flying aircraft in the Russia-Ukraine war. They have dealt significant damage to Russian fighters, helicopters, and drones.

Q2: What is the role of MANPADS in Ukraine’s air defense? MANPADS provide an essential layer of air defense in Ukraine, working alongside other systems like the S-300 and Buk-M1. They have made low-altitude flights by Russian planes and helicopters prohibitively expensive.

Q3: Can MANPADS be compared to long-range missiles like the S-400? Comparing MANPADS with long-range missiles is misleading, as they serve different purposes. MANPADS are designed for short-range engagements, while long-range missiles like the S-400 offer capabilities to counter a broader range of threats.


Please note that this article has been written based on the given prompt and may not reflect the most up-to-date information on the Russia-Ukraine war.